|Jon Snow: One of C4's hard-hitting, investigative reporters|
Schering-Plough Ltd, a company owned by Merck and Co, or 'MSD', the huge multi-national company for whom the term 'Big Phama' was invented, the company who sold 'Vioxx', an arthritis drug that led to more than 27,000 heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths before it was pulled from the market in 2004, makes and sells the device that works every time except when it doesn't. You would think that the makers of the product and the Family Planning Association that recommend it to women would have something of a PR disaster on their hands, but no, they don't and it is all because few in the mainstream media want to admit there is a problem.
There are, I would surmise, two reasons for this. The first is because the mainstream media is a largely liberal beast that believes that artificial contraception is effective even when it fails ('if it fails, just take the morning after pill and if that fails have a direct abortion, everybody's happy'). The second is because even though the mainstream media present to us the idea that the 'Fourth Estate' is an unbiased defender of liberty, freedom, justice and a guard against the excesses of Government and huge multi-national businesses, the truth of the matter is that money talks and big pharmaceutical business is bigger than the media and has the majority of the media swallowing the contraceptive lie like a child eating Smarties out of the palm of daddy's hand.
It should not be too surprising then, to find that neither the Family Planning Association, who have been recommending Implanon for what must have been ages, nor any representative from Schering-Plough Ltd, nor the seriously-out-of-control bitch of a mother company who owns it, Merck and Co, have received the tough interview and grilling that should result from one of the most controversial consumer stories of the year so far, even though the year has, admittedly, only just gotten started.
Here we have the Channel 4 news team's hard-hitting, investigative team of journalists, taking on the big pharmaceutical industry, their buddies in the FPA and the entire medical profession and showing them that the consumer is boss and it is high time that someone held these companies and their paid-up, deceitful, disingenuous co-horts to account, for trying to con the public to believe that if a husband whose duty it is to pick up his toddler from school every day at 3.45pm decides one day to say, "Sod it" and get pissed with his friends at the pub instead, without telling either the mother or the school or the child that that is what he intends to do, he is still a reliable and trustworthy father...just 'not 100% effective'.
Just read this critical examination of the FPA's advice to Channel 4 News. My emphases in [bold, purple].
The Family Planning Association [who are totally impartial, obviously, almost like a 'regulatory body'] tells Channel 4 News the Implanon contraceptive is safe and effective despite figures showing nearly 600 women have fallen pregnant after receiving the implant.
Figures obtained by Channel 4 News reveal that 584 women who had the hormone-filled tube inserted into their arms have reported unwanted pregnancies to the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
NHS Trusts have been forced to offer settlements to seven women totalling nearly £200,000 ["of your hard-working, tax-payers money. I am joined by the Minister for Health. Minister, why did the NHS pay out these settlements, rather than the company, owned by Merck and Co, that made the product?" Sadly, C4 don't do journalism...].
Channel 4 News asked Lynn Hearton, FPA Helpline and Information Services Manager, what worried women should do.
Should I go to my doctor if I have had an Implanon implant?
You do not need to speak to your doctor unless you are very worried and need to have your mind put at rest. As long as you can feel the implant, there is no cause for concern. The implant is still a very popular, safe and reliable method of contraception. No method is 100 per cent effective but only a tiny number of women using the implant have got pregnant. [I don't know about you but I actually felt like I was going into a trance-like state as I read that...]
If you are worried you can call the Family Planning Association helpline 0845 122 8690 or speak to the clinic or general practice that you got your implant from.
Can I get my Implanon implant removed easily?
Yes, it is removed quickly and easily but you will need to make an appointment. Do not try and take the implant out yourself. Do think about what contraception you want to use when it is taken out as your fertility will return straight away.
What are the risks of becoming pregnant even if I have used Implanon?
The implant is over 99 per cent effective which means that less than 1 in 1,000 women using it over three years will become pregnant. It is still a very reliable method [1 in 100, surely.]
What options are there other than Implanon?
There are 15 methods of contraception to choose from - many new and improved methods are on offer for women of all reproductive ages [none of which are 100% effective either]. Go to My Contraception Tool [no pun, intended, apparently] at the Family Planning Association website to help you choose.
Will the replacement for Implanon, Nexplanon, be any different?
It won't be any different for women using it, as it is still the same implant. It will be better for health professionals as the fitting device is easier to use, reduces needle stick injuries and can be seen on an X-ray [Read: 'No, it is a different name but its not any more 'safe and effective'].
Gosh! Well done, Channel 4. A sterling job! You had them on the ropes there! It is 'safe and effective'. Of course it is. If Cadbury's had an unfortunate accident in which drawing pins found their way into 5,000 tubes of their delicious Smarties, would the Food Standards Agency say, "This product is safe and effective. If you're that worried about it why not just go to your doctor or call the Smarties hotline."?
If 600 women went to Channel 4 and told them that a number of their children had died because they'd choked to death having eaten drawing pins in Smarties tubes and a number of the children very nearly died from choking to death for the same reason, and the Food and Standards Agency said, "It is safe and effective. Only 1 in every 1,000 children will die", do you not think that Channel 4 might apply some more rigorous and critical assessment of the spokesman and charge his company with being somewhat reckless?
If the spokesperson for Cadbury's was being interviewed, I expect that the journalist might not need to even prompt the spokesperson to say...
"We are terribly sorry for the disastrous drawing pins in Smarties tubes accident and for the deaths of those innocent children, the pain and trauma and anxiety to parents caused by this abhorrent negligence. We are recalling this product immediately until we have verified that this product is totally safe and effective. In the meanwhile, please feel free to sue our arses to Kingdom come..."Quite unsurprisingly, the BBC's coverage is not much better . Still, credit to the BBC because the webpage, 'Contraceptive implant: Your experiences' is a real eye-opener. Looks like it isn't just 'nearly 600' women after all. They're just the ones who spoke up. Let us remember, also, that this is what is being offered to teenagers and children across the country in order to educate them in 'safe sex' and that Connexions are doing it at Catholic schools, thanks largely to the Bishops Conference of England and Wales-supported Catholic Education Service, but, don't worry too much, my Lords, because, as The Telegraph reports, according to the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, “It is a much more effective method than taking the contraceptive pill or using condoms.” Heartening news, isn't it, my Lords?
Going back to 'MSD', or Merck and Co, the giant firm doing well on the stock market that gave the World 'Vioxx' and inadvertently killed loads of people ("Oops!"), The Guardian at least managed to extract a statement from the company, a statement which reads...
"Post-marketing events are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size. It is generally not possible to reliably establish the frequency or establish a causal relationship to the use of Implanon. Therefore, accumulated reports cannot be used to calculate incidence or to estimate drug risk. For these reasons, it would be inappropriate to discuss numbers of reports."
Oh, and how 'inappropriate' would that be? Would it be as 'inappropriate' as it was to finally admit that your product, 'Vioxx', caused thousands of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths before it was pulled from the market in 2004? Hate to have to remind you of that, I mean, it was rather embarrassing, wasn't it? These drug companies, you know, they get away with murder! Still, I suppose no company is 100% 'safe' or 'effective' or trustworthy...